My fourteen days in Portugal

It is raining in Ljubljana. It is cold and since the warm Portuguese sun is absent, feeling that something is missing becomes even bigger. And memories of amazing experience – workcamp in Lousa and discovering Lisbon before and after the camp – are more than alive, constantly present in my mind.

I could have simply said that my workcamp experience was amazing, that I enjoyed it a lot and that people I have met were amazing. That I got to learn a lot about group dynamics and cooperation in a group of nearly twenty people. And I could have simple said that I got back home changed … I could have even used a cliché that I grew as a person and maybe even that I became a better one.

But I cannot say that. I cannot say that, because I do not know whether this is true or not. And frankly, in the end of the day that does not even matter. What is truly crucial is that I spent almost two weeks with amazing people and that participation in this particular workcamp change my perspective and challenged me a lot.

First of all, we spent a lot of time in the mountains, which, as my friends and family can tell, are not my favourite place on earth. As I am sea person I had this funny and irrational expectation that ocean would be more easily accessible and that I would be able to spent more time there. But okay, I was naive as I usually am. Anyway, surprisingly I enjoyed walking in the mountains, I enjoyed cleaning mountain paths and I enjoyed marking the paths. There was always conversation, there was always people making jokes and I strongly believe our laughs drove away all the dears.

My next challenge was being part of cooking teams. I cannot cook (but some simple dishes only for myself) and at the workcamp kitchen team had to provide two meals per day. Luckily my role was more or less limited to chopping vegetables and washing dishes (which I do not mind), but still – I am proud of myself, I am proud of being part of the small team that cooked for twenty people.

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Participating in the workcamp was also challenging since it was … different to any other exchange I have participated in before. It cannot be even comparable to my one semester studies in Belfast. Because at this workcamp there was no room for privacy, no room for “taking a break from socialising”. We were together all the time. If we were not in the mountains, we were playing cards, spending time by the pool or simply talking. I strongly believe that this is the reason why we got so close to each other. After only few days we felt completely comfortable in each other’s company – at least I did – and that is why saying goodbye was way more difficult than I expected- I think it was even more difficult than saying goodbye to my Erasmus family. Because workcamp ended in the “honeymoon period” when we still nothing else but enjoyed the time that was given to us. Although we all had this annoying cold.  

All in all, spending all this time with all these amazing people is precious to me. I am considering is as a gift that will be appreciated for ever. Even when all nostalgia fades away, I can tell that everyone will be missed, and our experience will have a place in my mind … forever. Yes, forever. Let’s be cheesy, let’s use this phrase.

Story written by Katja Miklavčič , who took part in a workcamp in Portugal, thanks to Zavod Voluntariat – SCI Slovenia.

Want to have your own workcamp experience? There are plenty of short term voluntary projects you can still join, just check our workcamps database!

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